Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The First Time

There's another pair of skinny pants cut out and ready to sew this morning. I'm looking forward to making them because the fitting questions are out of the way and my focus will be on doing my best job with a little fine tuning as I go.

Often the first time I sew a pattern is more complicated but it's rarely a total fail except for yesterday - and even that wouldn't have been a total fail if I'd been willing to do the work - as in remove the sleeves, take off the collar, raise the shoulders, reshape the neckline, reshape the armhole, restitch the collar and sleeves, and move the waist shaping down. That was TOO MUCH WORK. I'd basically be resewing the garment and in that case, I'd rather just resew it.

I'm making Vogue 9089. When I adjusted the pattern prior to sewing this first version, I made a 3/4" narrow back and narrow chest adjustment and raised the armhole 1 1/8" due to the difference between my center back length and the length of the pattern. I took the amount out through the armhole because I could see that it was too low. I figured that would be enough, possibly too much, and I didn't measure. I should have.

In this picture, it doesn't look too bad but you can already see the droop lines from the shoulder to the waist. These are there because the armhole is too low and the garment isn't fitted at the side seam. When I added the sleeves, there was a lot of bunching and wrinkling.

When I placed my armhole template underneath, the difference between the pattern and the template was 1 3/4" which means the armhole needed to be raised a total of 2 7/8" - the initial 1 1/8" plus an additional 1 3/4". That's a lot. No wonder it wasn't looking too good.

I started by tracing the armhole in the back and then moving the underarm point up 1 3/4" and taping the new shape to the old one.

I used a French Curve to draw a tighter curve (the line with the Xs on it) and that still didn't look right so I lay my template on top and traced that line.

In this image, the dotted line is the previous armhole and the higher solid line that is cut out is my back armhole shape. I squared out the edge slightly more.

In the front, the shift was even more dramatic. The pencil line is where the raised curve ended up and the black line is the new shape. The arrow pointing to the small dot is where I needed to make sure my chest would finish at 7" to center front.

Along with raising the armhole, I shortened the finished length. I'd been wondering how to figure that out when I got an email suggesting finger tip length. That was  3" shorter and since there were no lengthen and shorten lines on the pattern, I took the length off the bottom making it slightly less full. I'd already done that with the "failed" version so I know the length will work for my next version. Unfortunately, I don't have more of that blue fabric. It was perfect to go with the floral skinny pants. I'll find something else I'm sure but first... new skinny pants.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - learning pattern alterations


  1. Thanks for documenting your raised armhole adjustment. While I personally don't need this adjustment it's great that you offer your solution to fellow sewists. So glad you've jumped on the skinny pant wagon. As you've found we sewists can make them flattering to each person's figure. We are so lucky! Karen

    1. We are definitely lucky. I can't imagine what I'd do if I didn't sew. Imagine having to hire someone all the time. I think I've figured out a solution for the top by adding in a piece under the arm. I'll experiment with that after the pants.

  2. Good illustrations on raising the armhole, but now the sleeve will be too large to fit into the armhole. How do you change the sleeve to still go around your arm but fit correctly into the armhole?

    1. The technical answer is that you would shorten the sleeve cap by the same amount. That - however - assumes that the sleeve cap was correct at the start and fits you arm well. What I do is compare the sleeve to "my" sleeve - the one that is basically a template - and adjust the pattern tissue to match. I this case, I ended up shaping the curves of the sleeve tighter and lowering the cap by about 3/8". I know that my sleeve fits into my armhole so I'm comfortable going ahead with this but if I wasn't, I'd sew a muslin sleeve and baste it in, access, and go from there.

    2. Thanks for the additional info, Myrna. Sounds like your templates are treasures in your sewing room.

  3. Isn't it great to develop skills with experience? I too have found templates for the armholes, shoulders and sleeve caps to be invaluable. I have so many fitting issues that each pattern would take ages to fix. Instead I just use my base patterns to trace the new lines on and I'm done! It's lovely to have shoulder seams that don't drop off and armholes that come high enough under my arms so I can lift them.

    I'm sure you'll find a way to fix that garment, Myrna! It's a creative challenge. ;)

    1. It is great. Templates are a wonderful tool to stop re-inventing the wheel. They take a bit to develop and then I find they're always being fine tuned but they at least start you off at the right point. Every time I skip that step - like with this top - I tend to regret it. I drafted a gusset for the underarm this morning and will - hopefully - get it sewn in soon. I think that will solve the problem in a much easier manner.


Thanks for commenting. I appreciate the feedback and the creative conversation.